Turn Former Visitors into Current Customers: Best Remarketing Practices

Posted by
David Zheng
 March 27, 2014

Remarketing with Google AdWords is the PPC strategy of utilizing cookies on a users’ internet browser to show them ads from websites or product pages that they have visited in the past. Advertisers use this strategy hoping that their website visitors just need a reminder about products and services, with the hope that the repeated exposure will prompt them to finally make a purchase.

The remarketing campaign process in itself can be fairly complicated, and may seem overwhelming at first. After reading this article, you will be grateful that remarketing gives you the opportunity to reach a highly targeted audience that already has viewed your products and services before, making them more susceptible to buying.


Types of Remarketing Ads

When it comes to setting up a remarketing campaign, image, gif, video, and text ad formats are all available. Along with the format of ads, Google also allows each ad to be shown via different channels, depending on advertiser availability and desired targeting:


  • Display Network: These are the remarketing ads that show up on various websites that are utilizing Google AdSense to host Google ads on their site. All ad formats are available for this channel.

  • Search List Remarketing: The ads shown on search results to users who have previously visited your site can be tailored. Google allows advertisers to add additional keywords, adjust bids, and create custom ads just for users that have already been on a business’ site and are now searching for the company or an available product offering via the Google search engine.

  • Mobile App: This allows for remarketing that advertises a business in other apps when users have visited specific sections of the company’s own mobile app.

  • Dynamic Remarketing: This option is only available for advertisers that have a Google Merchant Account. It allows advertisers to show the exact products users were looking at, as well as showcase related products.


Remarketing Ad Format and Channel Best Practices

No matter what format you decide to use, remarketing, if done correctly, can definitely increase your ROI. Blast Marketing and Analytics reports that there is a 300-400% increase conversion rate for PPC when using remarketing. The cost-per-acquisition is also lower.


That being said, many advertisers are unsure  of which remarketing ad formats and channel options are good for their campaign and industry. Of course, the target audience and the campaign goals determine which ad format and channel should be used. The best combination of the two makes all the difference in campaign success or failure.


For example, if increasing conversions on a call-to-action within a mobile app is your goal, then a banner or text ad in another mobile app is probably your best bet. However, if there was high conversions from a page on your company website that features a product demonstration video, consider utilizing a video ad with the display network to catch users who may convert after seeing your product in action.



Proper Remarketing Bidding and Segmentation:

Setting up proper traffic and ad group segmentation at the beginning of the campaign will ensure that all leads and conversions are captured properly. Below are the key areas that will create a highly optimized campaign and better bidding with clearer report metrics.


Advanced Funnel Bidding

Search Engine Watch states that advertisers should bid higher on the ad impressions of users who abandon their shopping carts, since these users have reached the furthest point in the shopping process without completing the purchase. They are much likelier to buy than other shoppers. This strategy is called increased funnel bidding, and means that the further down the sales purchasing funnel a user is, the higher the bid amount per click should be (again, this is because those at the end of the funnel are more likely to result in a sale).


Traffic Segmentation

According to KISSMetrics, traffic segmentation can help advertisers keep their data better clearly reported, while also keeping bidding low. They recommend creating two remarketing lists that split users who have visited your website into two groups: users that didn’t convert, and those who actually did.


The latter should have a much lower bid amount since they aren’t the actual primary target of the campaign. Having separate target lists will keep the remarketing data more honest. Because the purpose of remarketing is to capture lost conversions, the first group will give you a more accurate look at click-through rate and other metrics for a campaign. By targeting the right group, cost-per-click and cost-per-acquisition will also go down.


On the reporting end of traffic segmentation, advertisers can set up custom remarketing lists in Google Analytics when connected to an AdWords account, according to PPC Hero. This allows analytics users to view reports based on Visitor Segment data in analytics, traffic from completed conversion goals, and more. These lists can also be created in AdWords first (as mentioned above, but this requires the unique analytics remarketing code to be added in the tracking code that is placed on the site, in addition to the traditional Google Analytics code).


Frequency Capping

Search Engine Journal author Bethany Bey recommends “stacking” audience groups in order to show ads more frequently to more recent users than to those who haven’t visited in one or two months.

First she recommends segmenting visitors into audience groups of people who have visited in the last 7 days, the last 30 days, and then the last 31-60 days, each in their own ad groups.

Separate ad groups are necessary because you can’t set frequency caps per audience. Next set a frequency cap, per ad group, for the amount of impressions you would like per day/week/etc. We will use 10 impressions per week for this example.  Because the 7 day group fits into all 3 groups, they will get 30 impressions per week. The 30 day group fits into 2 groups and will get 20 impressions per week, and so on. This ad “stacking” with each interval helps slowly decrease impressions as the number of days since people have visited your site increases.


A higher frequency of impressions for more recent visitors can lead to higher conversions, since their visit to the company’s site is relatively fresh in their mind.


The Most Successful Remarketing Calls-to-Action


As mentioned on CPC Strategy, there are specific calls-to-action and positioning statements that Google recommends, some of which have had the most success for advertisers. Here area few calls to action that get results:


  • Discover Great Deals: Remind users of a site with a general call-to-action about price or unique products

  • New Products: Let users know about new products that are now available on the site to reignite their curiosity.

  • Free Shipping: Offer free shipping to users who have abandoned their shopping cart, just in case shipping costs were a factor.

  • An Exclusive Coupon: Offering the remarketing campaign audience a unique coupon code will not only give them further incentive to purchase the products they viewed, it will also allows tracking of sales with an additional metric: the unique coupon code offered in the ads.

  • Re-engage Past Purchasers: For those users who have already purchased an item on the site, re-engage them with a referral code or a related product that goes with something they already purchased (e.g. a grill cover for the new grill, or headphones for a new laptop).


These specific call-to-action strategies can all be used simultaneously with different campaigns, keywords, ad groups, and traffic segmentation to determine the highest click-through and conversion rates.


Information Overload

One of the biggest pitfalls to remarketing is overloading users. While some users may actually find remarketing useful because it helps them remember what products they were looking at previously, others may be turned off by “remarketing overload”. Remarketing overload happens when users see too many impressions of the same types of ads on several websites they visit. The only way to combat this is to experiment with different impression levels in ad groups to determine which has the highest click-through rate.


It may also help to take personal experience and customer feedback into consideration. If you wouldn’t want to see ads for an industry product that was viewed two months ago, chances are, the target audience wouldn’t want to either.


In Conclusion

By increasing bids lower in the funnel, experimenting with frequency capping and impression stacking, and targeting specific products that users have looked at in the past, you can increase conversions.

That being said, remarketing can be a little tricky to get right. However, with the right format, channel, and segmentation, it can be a successful way to drive sales from an e-commerce or business website, making it worth the cost and effort.

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